Hurricanes at Disney World

by Shannon Albert · 14 comments · Like the Facebook page

Hurricanes at Disney World from WDWPrepSchool.comSo you’ve planned your trip during a time that’s less busy and less expensive but…you’re traveling to Florida at the same time that the hurricanes are.

In fact, AccuWeather is predicting that there will be 8 hurricanes this year and has specifically said that Florida could be hit directly.

Florida is long overdue for a direct hurricane hit, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Dan Kottlowski. Though the state has been hit by named tropical storms in the past couple of years, he says, a direct hit by a hurricane has not occurred since Hurricane Charley in 2004.

Although June – November is officially considered hurricane season, most activity takes place in August, September and October.

Here’s what to do if you’re traveling during that time.

By the time a hurricane makes its way inland toward Orlando, it is considered a storm since it is slowed down by land.

If you’re already at Disney World, you will likely be able to head indoors to wait it out. DisneyQuest is a popular place to spend time inside, but it could get crowded really fast.

Note: Short bursts of rain are very common in the Orlando area and shouldn’t scare you away from being in the parks. But sometimes (like during a hurricane), the rain could last for hours or days so going into the parks may not be a good option.
 

Other things to do indoors:

  • Arcades. These are found at almost every Disney resort.
  • Shop. If you went into World of Disney at 10 a.m., you could stay until 5 p.m. and still not have seen everything.
  • Kids clubs. In the evening, the Disney World kids clubs provide child care but during the day, they are often open for parents to visit with their kids and do arts/crafts, watch a Disney movie, etc. Kids clubs at Disney World include:
    • Simba’s Clubhouse at Animal Kingdom Lodge
    • Never Land Club at The Polynesian
    • Cub’s Den at Wilderness Lodge
    • Sandcastle Club at The Beach Club
    • Camp Dolphin at The Dolphin Hotel

During a hurricane in 2004, Disney World held movie marathons and provided sandwich buffets while guests remained indoors.

Disney World hasn’t had to close often due to hurricanes but it has happened twice:

  • In 2004, a hurricane virtually destroyed 2 hotels in Downtown Disney. One of those didn’t reopen until 2010. Guests had to stay inside their hotels for up to 3 days.
  • In 2005, Hurricane Wilma hit the parks, causing them to close for a day.

If you are at home just before a hurricane, you can possibly cancel your hotel reservation and reschedule for a later date. You can read Disney’s full hurricane policy at https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/faq/hurricane-policy/.

It’s important to note that you will only be able to cancel or get assistance with the part that you booked through Disney which usually doesn’t include flights. For that reason, I recommend purchasing trip insurance if you’re traveling in August, September or October. In fact, the only time I’ve purchased trip insurance was for a cruise and when traveling to Disney World in October.

You can research trip insurance options using InsureMyTrip.com to compare various plans. If you choose to get trip insurance, you should buy it within 14 days of paying the deposit on your trip to make sure you get maximum coverage.

Here’s what my results looked like when I searched:

Hurricanes at Disney World from WDWPrepSchool.com

You can expect to pay roughly $200 on a $5000 trip. Although there’s a good chance your trip plans won’t be affected by a hurricane, it’s worth it to me for the peace of mind and to help to make your trip stress-free.

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Planning to get trip insurance? Ever had to use it to cover expenses on a trip? I’d love to hear your thoughts below.



Hurricanes at Disney World from WDWPrepSchool.comHurricanes at Disney World from WDWPrepSchool.comHurricanes at Disney World from WDWPrepSchool.comHurricanes at Disney World from WDWPrepSchool.com
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{ 14 comments (add yours) }

Maria B February 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

In addition to hurricanes (the worst case scenario), there are also afternoon thunderstorms in June, July, August, and early September. This could put a damper on your plans because often they will shut down certain rides, like Splash Mountain, Test Track, and other outdoor attractions. This could put a damper on your plans, so you need to try to be flexible. We were there last year in June and an afternoon storm prevented us from riding several things. Just a tip – plan these outdoor attractions for early in the day, when it’s less likely it will thunder/lightening.

We were also there during a tropical storm – in June, actually – in 2012. If you didn’t mind getting wet, it was a LOT of fun. We got on every ride that was open, without a wait, and enjoyed uncrowded restaurants. So, bad weather could work out in your favor, as long as it’s not a massive storm. We’re going in August this year (2014) for the first time. Here’s hoping!

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Jessica January 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

Hi Shannon!
I am a REALLY BIG WDW fanatic, but if there is a hurricane during my trip, what hotel would you recommend to stay at? Would it be the value, modern, or the deluxe hotel(s)?

And I have two kids, one who which is 11, and the other is 8, and they don’t stay entertained very easily. How would I keep them inside, but entertained at the same time if there is a hurricane?

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Kat January 17, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I’m a FL native and typically you know 3-5 days out if there is a chance you’ll be hit by a storm and how hard. But given Disney’s inland location, it’s likely a lower category storm to hit it.

This means it is essentially a very big thunderstorm and your kids are not likely to want out in it. You’d actually have worse problems with boredom with a tropical storm – they just sit there all day and rain on you. Hurricanes are typically only a few hours of storm itself (cleanup on the other hand is MONTHS. Ugh.)

Actual hurricanes also have the side effect of being LOUD and intense. I have 3 energetic cousins (currently ages 5-9) that practically live and breathe outdoors and we had NO issues keeping them from opening doors and windows during a storm.

If one is approaching, you will have 3-5 days notice, just keep an eye on a weather app or local news in the mornings. If something looks like it is headed your way, you could ask the desk for in-room activity suggestions.

As someone else mentioned, my bigger concern would be getting out after the storm.

Not sure where your from, but I think it’s something similar to a blizzard event – the snowfall is the least of it – it’s dealing with the aftermath that gets you.

For that reason if you are really, really concerned, your best bet is a resort with suites – where you have your own kitchenette and can have room to spread out. But I wouldn’t even let it affect your plans until it’s an actual threat.

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GrumpyFan June 7, 2013 at 8:43 am

One other note. I think the biggest threat to a storm ruining or interrupting a vacation at WDW might be travel. If a storm is due to hit the area, the airports, and roads too, could be closed. The airlines are pretty good at trying to accommodate and get people to their destination both before and after, but you’ll likely need to bring along extra patience and perhaps a few snacks in case happen to get stuck. Also, it might be a good idea to have access to some extra cash in case you have to extend your vacation a day or two due to the storm.

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GrumpyFan June 7, 2013 at 8:36 am

I just found your blog via a post on AllInWDW and wanted to share our experiences. We’ve been to WDW 18 times since 2000 totaling more than 80 days at the parks, and of those times we’ve been 8 times during hurricane season and never experienced a hurricane. We did have one trip a couple of years ago where there was a tropical storm passing by and it rained all day long. However, we looked back at all of our trips and realized of all the times we’ve been, that was the only time we’ve been rained out for a day. We tried to make the best of it, but eventually I got grumpy and my wife sent me back to the room (true story), although, they all came too because we were all soaking wet. All this to say, your chances of a ruined trip at WDW due to a storm are slim, but still likely. So, the best thing to do is, to hope for the best and plan for the worst. Bring umbrellas or ponchos or whatever you think you might need and ride it out. I’ve heard numerous stories from others who have been at a Disney resort during past storms and they’ve all said that Disney went out of their way to try and ensure that people still had an enjoyable vacation, despite the weather.

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EmilyQ May 16, 2013 at 6:43 pm

Hi there – My family and I live in Florida and we’ve had annual passes for many years. Our very first trip to Magic Kingdom was in September and right before the weekend, a hurricane (Ophelia) parked itself off the east coast of Florida. At that time, no one was sure if it would wobble inland or stay off the coast. But it was the BEST time we ever went to Disney. I think a lot of people stayed away because they were worried about the hurricane. It did not come ashore but the cloud cover kept the park cool and breezy. September is usually so hot and sticky. There were only a few rain showers but they were fast and blew right through. We literally stayed on the Peter Pan ride twice. We didn’t have to get off after the first go around, there was no line (and that has never happened since that I know of!). Our whole day was like that and it was the best time. So sometimes hurricanes/tropical storms aren’t always the worst possible scenario when at Magic Kingdom!

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Shannon Albert May 18, 2013 at 11:35 am

Thanks for sharing! It’s nice that it worked out that way. I’ve been during some less busy times of year and couldn’t even done that during those times so your experience was a rare chance to be there without many people.

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Kathy Morris May 16, 2013 at 2:24 pm

We’re heading to Disneyworld during Christmas. Are we safe during that time?

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Shannon Albert May 16, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Hurricane season is until November so you should be in the clear.

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Kathy Morris May 16, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thank you, I did read that but that is my one big fear is a hurricane hitting while we were there

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Kara Reid May 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

Thank you for this post Shannon. We are traveling mid September during the prime time of the hurricane season so all this extra planning information was great.

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Shannon Albert May 18, 2013 at 11:34 am

You’re welcome. Are you planning to get travel insurance?

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Genevieve May 16, 2013 at 10:34 am

Hello Shannon,
I’m planning to go to WDW from october 30th to november 8th. Do you think there is a chance that there could be a hurricane at this time of the year? My boyfriend and I are from Quebec, Canada and we can’t reschedule our vacations because it’s the only time of the year we are not working. We will take a plane for the first time and we chose Walt Disney World as our first trip away from home. I am very excited! Thank you Shannon for your website. I’m following you since January 2013 and your website is such an excellent source of informations for our WDW trip planification.
P.S. Sorry if there are mistakes in my message because I’m not so good in english, I speak fench. :)
Genevieve

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Shannon Albert May 16, 2013 at 10:39 am

Hi, Genevieve –
Yes, there is a chance there will be a hurricane during your trip dates since you will be there during hurricane season. I’d buy trip insurance just in case.

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